Are species real?---tuatara

Geoff Read at NIWA.CO.NZ
Thu Apr 13 14:21:05 CDT 2006

Ken is right. One only Sphenodon left is the latest verdict. And if he had to
find that paper on the web after being 'challenged' as it were I'm impressed.
Just relying on searching on S. guntheri for the most modern opinion (as I
did) doesn't cut it.

Hay et al. 2004: "Allozymes clearly differentiate S. guntheri from all other
populations (Daugherty et al, 1990), whereas mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)
sequence groups S. guntheri among other nearby islands in Cook Strait (Hay et
al, 2003)."

>      Unfortunately, I think "purportedly" is the operative word in this case.
>      The results of Hay et al., 2004 (published in the journal Heredity), seem
>      to cast serious doubt on the claim that Sphenodon guntheri is a distinct
>      species.  Their sequence data show that it is closer to the other Cook
>      Strait populations.  This also makes much more sense geographically, and
>      the likely result is going to be a single species of tuatara divisible
>      into one southern subspecies and one northern subspecies.  And any simple
>      coloration differences on that one particular island could very easily be
>      a minor founder effect, so it made perfect sense to place guntheri in
>      synonymy with all the other populations in one species.  Looks like
>      sequence data will probably support that decision.
>    ----Cheers,
>            Ken Kinman
> *********************************************************
> Geoff Read wrote:
>      Interestingly, there are purportedly two species of Tuatara reptile, which
>      was one of Ken's other examples of single very distinct relict taxa with
>      no near relatives. The 2nd, Sphenodon guntheri, had only a few hundred
>      individuals left on one island rock stack when 'confirmed' (it had been
>      described earlier but synonymised).

  Geoff Read < at>

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